New singles night Fifty:Fifty gives a more balanced take on speed dating

Fifty Fifty Speed Dating

Fifty Fifty Speed Dating - Credit: Archant

Love coach Julia Keller tells Alex Bellotti about a monthly Islington singles event for the 35+ market where men and women attend in equal measure.

Tired of Tinder? Marred by The world of online dating can be a wonderful thing, but often also frustrating for those after a well-suited, committed partner, and this is part of the thinking behind an innovative new singles night in Islington.

The brainchild of ‘love coach’ Julia Keller and promoter James Robertson, Fifty:Fifty runs each month at Chapel Market’s Work, with the next event taking place on Sunday. Its unique concept is that each participant is encouraged to attend with a friend who is a member of the opposite sex, thus avoiding a potentially awkward gender imbalance throughout the night and ensuring everyone has someone to talk to.

“The issue with online dating, and what I get from a lot of my clients, is that you get everything in there; you get a real mish-mash of everybody,” says Keller. “It can be people you’ll cross the road to avoid and people you’ll want to meet.

“The other problem with online dating is that it’s very isolating. In order to win at it, so to speak, you have to sit there every evening or day and look through the profiles. It’s almost like when you look for a job; you have to sift through and send your CV. You basically have to choose between sitting at your computer or actually meeting people, and this is an opportunity for the latter.”

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In the past, Keller has run other singles nights, but following feedback from her clients, realised that most such events tend to target the 20-30 something markets. Fifty:Fifty, therefore, is aimed at the 35+ demographic, and the debut night in December attracted a crowd of participants mainly in their late 30s and early 40s.

After all the guests have arrived and been greeted with a glass of prosecco or beer at the door, a quick fire round of speed dating takes place, before the event segues into a club night where guests are free to stay and mingle until 2am.

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For Keller, who was born in Russia and grew up in New York, the metropolitan area of Islington is a perfect place to meet new people and hone your dating skills.

“Personally I prefer London above any other city in the world, mainly because it’s so international,” she says.

“The beauty of that is that you have so many different versions of how people date: Italians date in a different way than English people do, and English people date differently to how Americans date. It can still be a needle in a haystack, but you can have lots of needles in lots of haystacks.”

Does Keller, who has accumulated qualifications in NLP, couples and mindfulness coaching since 2011, subscribe to the idea that English daters can be more reserved than their continental counterparts?

“I do feel that English people can take a bit of time to warm up. Americans will walk into the room and own the room, and eastern European women will daintily walk into the room; they don’t own the room, but do act in a certain way. And then you have the English people who walk in the room and they’re more held back, but they have their humour – and no one has the humour which the English and the Irish have – so there are all these different ways that people bring, but there are techniques of how to get better at dating.”

The good news, she adds, is that even for those at the shyer end of the spectrum, speed dating can suit all different sorts of personalities.

“That’s the advantage of these sorts of events, because you can have that confidence, but you can also take your time, be shyer and still have the opportunity to talk to somebody.

“If you have that initial time to relax, mingle and feel more comfortable, you know you’ll still have a chance to show your personality, then another. It’s a level playing field.”

The next Fifty:Fifty takes place on Sunday at Work, 3 Chapel Market, Angel Islington N1 9EZ, from 5pm till late. Tickets are £10. Visit

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